Dinner Bites Back - Digital Collage 4" x6"

Among the strange and frightening delicacies hawked in the Guangzhou meat market can be found whole smoked dogs. In 1998, I came across an Airedale the color of a suckling pig hung from a meat hook. The sight of it shocked me, but I couldn't turn away. I engaged the proprietor in a conversation and he graciously invited me to his abbatoir the following day.

The next morning I rose before dawn and arrived at what can only be described as a pet store-cum-slaughterhouse. With the Lunar New Year less than a week away, demand for dog was at its annual peak. The proprietor took me back to the kennel where the din of barks and howls made conversation nearly impossible. Customers walked among the maze of cages accompanied by order boys. A woman at the end of our aisle instructed the order boy to open a cage so that she could get a better look at the Doberman inside. The boy released the latch and reached in grabbing the animal by the scruff of its neck leading it onto the floor. From my vantage point it was clear that the boy had to work to restrain the animal. When the woman bent over to inspect the dog's flank, it whipped it's head around, liberating itself from the order boy's grip and sunk it's teeth into the customer's forearm. She screamed. The dogs erupted into a chorus of frantic barking and my host took off down the aisle to help.

The order taker put a choke hold on the dog and worked to pry it's jaws off the woman's arm while the proprietor pulled on the animal's hind legs. The dog twisted around, dropped to the ground, scrambled to its feet and took off down the aisle and out of the building. A group of order boys ran off in pursuit. The owner looked back at me sheeplishly and called out in a tone both polite and anxious if perhaps I could come back some other day.